In my post Innocence Punished, I shared an incident that happened in my early elementary years that caused much heartache and brokenness. I was interrogated, in every sense of the word, by adults who I should have been able to trust. They broke through my resolve to be truthful, and coerced me into saying what they wanted to hear. I was punished severely, and I learned that my father could not be trusted…
That day after school my father took me downstairs to our unfinished basement. This was the place for punishment. Not the only place to be sure, but the preferred one.
My father lectured me about lying and embarrassing my family. I didn’t dare tell him that I hadn’t lied. That it had been the truth all along.
“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” he said coldly. I cringed as I heard the distinctive sound of his leather belt being ripped from the loops of his pants. He yanked down my jeans and underwear, then pulled me face-down across his lap. With each thrash of the belt, I felt the heat of impact. Swollen marks reddened my tender skin…
Lately, I have sensed God speaking to my heart and telling me that I need to “count the cost”. At first I wasn’t sure what He meant, but as the message is repeated I am slowly beginning to understand.
I am learning that part of the journey involves an honest evaluation of the harm that was done. This might seem obvious, but it is not something that comes naturally for me. I am more likely to deny my pain, or compare myself to others and conclude that what happened to me wasn’t really that bad.
Abba is gently challenging my way of thinking. To find healing, I need to be vulnerable. To admit to myself the extent of the pain, and acknowledge that which was lost – my childhood, my innocence, my trust… These things need to be grieved before I will be able to move on, before I will find the freedom and joy that my heart longs for.
As a starting point, I have written the poem below to express the pain that my father caused me. I am not able to share it with him yet, and maybe never will. He is still not a ‘safe’ person in my world, but I hope that might change someday. For now, I will share the cry of my heart here, and pray that degrees of healing will come.
To My Father…
When you first held me in your arms,
A helpless baby, so sweet and full of innocence.
I know that you loved me.
Fully and completely.
Did you promise yourself that you would do anything to protect me?
* * *
When, I wonder, did the doubts first come?
A child not so innocent, not so sweet.
Was it difficult to love me?
Did it break your heart,
that I was not everything you’d hoped I would be?
* * *
How disobedient a child was I?
That I required such harsh discipline.
To be yelled at, intimidated, and hurt.
What happened to the promise made so long ago,
To protect me and keep me safe?
* * *
Why, I wonder, did you not believe me?
Did I prove myself untrustworthy?
I shared my hurt with you, when mistreated at school,
And you sided with the adults who defended their innocence.
I learned not to trust.
* * *
A good father in many ways,
Provider, spiritual leader, and teacher.
You pointed me to Jesus, and for that I will forever be thankful.
Teaching me the importance of faith.
And praying for me.
* * *
But I needed a daddy.
Someone to watch me twirl in dresses, and tell me I was beautiful.
Someone to love me unconditionally.
To be a place of safety, and an example of Jesus.
I longed for that.
* * *
I’m sorry I wasn’t everything you’d hoped I would be.
That I disappointed you so much, and so often.
The past cannot be changed, but I wish things had been different.
I still long for unconditional approval.
The love of a daddy, and not just a father.
* * *
Writing these words touched a deep place inside, allowing me to feel the pain in a fresh way. I cried. For myself. That’s not something I often allow myself to do.
I am reminded, even now, that the need for unconditional love and approval is met by Abba, the perfect Father. He loves us with a perfect love, and accepts us just as we are. Abba is a very personal name for God; it literally translates ‘daddy’.
And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
Galatians 4:6 (NLT)
Thank you Lord, for being my Abba ‘daddy’. Please help me to trust you completely, and to walk in obedience into all that you ask me to do. I pray that you will minister to the hurting child, who still lives inside me. Help her to find healing, freedom and joy. I love and praise you Abba! You are so gentle, loving, and faithful. Praise your glorious name!
May you experience the love of Abba Father, dear one. He is so very fond of you!
Blessings and hugs,